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Common Joining Methods Used in Aluminum Structures

D.J. Spinella Alcoa Technical Center


November 21, 2013

Common Joining Methods Used for Aluminum Structures Agenda

Introduction
Trends in Automotive Structures
Design
Manufacturing Approaches

Automotive Joining Technology

Baseline
Joining Technologies
Fusion-Based
Solid State
Mechanical

Conclusions
Questions

High Volume Auto Body Evolution

Aluminum Intensive Vehicle

Multi-Material

MPG Requirements

(Strength & ductility for safety, Robust joining)

Tailoring Products

Steel & Aluminum Hybrid


Aluminum Closures

(High scrap utilization, Steel to aluminum joining)

(Increased formability for design/styling)


3

Jaguar Land Rover Aluminum Vehicles

2013 Jaguar XJ
Aluminum since 2003

2013 Jaguar XK
Aluminum since 2006

2013 Range Rover

2013 Jaguar F Type


www.jaguarusa.com
4

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Aluminum roof, doors, hood, decklid, rear package


shelf, frontend, front subframe
Saved 50 kg using aluminum over the steel body

2014 S-Class BIW Weight (kg)


Front Doors (2) (Kg)
Rear Doors (2) (Kg)
Hood (Kg)
Liftgate/Decklid (Kg)
Front Fenders (Kg)
Front Bumper/Other (kg)
Total (kg)

362
21.8
21.2
12.7
6.7
3.3
7
434.7

Ref: 2013 Euro Car Body Conference


5

Automotive Joining North American Industry Trends


Today
Steel
Assembly Line
(Single / Multi)

All Steel
Vehicle
Closures: RSW, Laser
Structures: RSW, Adhesives, MIG

Aluminum
Assembly Line
(Single Platform)

All Alum
Vehicle

.
Moving to aluminum intensive vehicles
requires separate pieces of capital in
addition to assets in place for steel
vehicles
Several aluminum joining technologies
not considered as flexible to product
changes as those employed for steel

Closures: RSW, Laser, SPR, Clinch, Friction Spot


Structures: MIG, Adhesives, SPR, EJOT

Future State

Can you process multiple materials down the same flowpath?

Aluminum
Assembly Line
(Multi Platform)

Multiple Al
Platforms

St / Al
Assembly Line

Steel or Al
Vehicle

St / Al / Hybrid
Assembly
Line

Steel, Al or
St/Al Hybrid
Vehicle
6

Automotive Joining Today Steel Sheet RSW


http://www.romaneng.com/engineering.html

3k to 5k resistance spot welds per


vehicle in galvanized sheet steels
Gauge Ranges

0.6 to 1.0mm (closures)


1.2 to 2.5mm (structural)

Cycle Time: 1.5 2.0 sec/weld to weld


Costs

Capital
Electrodes (~$0.0003/weld)
Labor, Electricity, Water Cooling

Respot RSW Cell

Robotic RSW is well entrenched

Extensive integrator & supply chain


AWS, ISO, JIS weld specifications
Decades of data & experience
QA & NDE procedures established

Weld through lubricants & adhesives


Very flexible to product changes

http://www.romaneng.com/engineering.html

Steel RSW Section


7

Automotive RSW Lines Flexibility is King


Multiple automotive models flow down single respot lines. Each
gun dynamically changes its weld schedule to accommodate
the multiple stackups for each individual assembly
Example Two different auto assemblies run down the same respot line
Gun A welds each assembly in seven locations by
electronically changing weld schedules rather than tooling

Auto 2

Gun A

Stackup Range:
2.3 to 4.6mm

Current Range:
8 to 13kN
Force Range:
3.1 to 6.5kN

Auto 1
www.abb.com/cawp/seitp202/522132200f15d417c12577ee005a784c.aspx

RSW process flexibility enables OEMs to


make gauge or product changes without the
downtime and capital costs to retool
8

Aluminum Joining Technologies


Room Temperature

450 C

620+ C (Above Melting Point)

Fasteners &
Adhesives

Soldering

Brazing

Solid State

Resistance

Adhesives

Dip

Atmosphere

Cold

Resistance Spot

Furnace

Diffusion

Cold Spray /
Welding

Weldbonding

Blind Fasteners
Solid Rivets

Dip

Infrared

Furnace

Bolts

Resistance Seam
Explosion

Self Pierce Rivets

Gas Metal-Arc
(MIG)

Gas TungstenArc (TIG)

Diffusion
Induction

Arc Welding
and High
Energy
Fusion

Projection

Plasma

Friction
Iron

Infrared

Clinching

Friction Stir Seam

Resistance

Laser

Flow Drill Screws

Friction Stir Spot

Mechanical
Interlock

Torch

Resistance

Electromagnetic
Forming

Wave

Torch

Magnetic Pulse
Ultrasonic

High Freq
Resistance

Electron Beam

High Freq
Induction
Laser Beam
Flash

Upset, Pressure

Laser Hybrid
GMAW

Comparison of Various Joining Processes


Many welding processes dont reach the melting point of the material
Alloy of parent, heat & pressure profile, and filler metal determines

Mechanical Properties (tensile, yield, elongation, fatigue)


Physical Properties (corrosion, electrical resistivity, color match
Pressure

Time

Cold

Explosion
FSW

Ultrasonic

Al Melting
Point

Magnetic
Pulse

Friction,
Upset
Resistance

Soldering
Fusion

Brazing
450 C

Temperature
620 C
10

Good

Yes

EJOT, Flowdrill

Good

Yes

Mechanical Clinch

Lower

Yes

Adhesives

Good

Yes

Yes

Blind Fastener

Good

Yes

Yes

Ultrasonic

Lower

Low

Friction Stir Spot

Lower

Low

Improvement

Precision
Alignment

Self Pierce Rivet

Special
Practices
Special
Practices

Process Speed

Yes

Low

Adhesive
Compatible

Limited 2 Sided

Lower

Surface
Pretreatments

Aluminum to Steel
Joining
No

Aluminum RSW

High Strength
Materials

Gun Accessibility
2 Sided

Consumable Cost

Yes

Mechanical
Performance

Flexibility to
Gauge Changes

Competing Technologies vs. Robotic Steel RSW

No

Yes

Fast

Low

No

Yes

Fast

Low

Yes - w/
pilot

Yes

No

Yes

Mod

Mod

Yes

Special
Practices

No

Yes

Fast

Low

1 Sided

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Fast

Mod

1 Sided

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Slow

Mod

Limited 2 Sided

Limited

Yes

No

Limited

Mod

Mod

Limited 2 Sided

Yes

Yes

No

Limited

Mod

High

Yes

1 Sided

Limited 2 Sided

Baseline

Lower

Limited

11

Joining Technology Example


2014 GM Corvette Stingray

media.gm.com
www.technologytell.com

Resistance Spot Welding


EJOTS (Flow Drill Screws)
Laser Beam Welding
12

Automotive Joining Today Aluminum Sheet RSW


Aluminum sheet is spot welded in several high
volume closure applications
Structural applications have been limited to
only a few niche vehicles
Issues versus steel RSW
1.
2.
3.

4.
5.

Al Closure Panel Line

Process consistency (its all about surface)


Requires higher capacity welding transformers
(2.5X weld current)
Questions on process robustness to
production conditions (electrode angularity,
gaps, etc.)
QA and NDE procedures are not as mature
Lubricant and adhesive impact on weld quality

Advantages

Equipment designed to weld aluminum can


easily process steel
Leverages steel RSW infrastructure & logistics
Aluminum Weld Section
13

Aluminum RSW Size, Spacing, Edge Distance & Overlap

Ref: AA Welding Aluminum, Table 13.1


14

Parameter Guidelines for RSW Aluminum Sheet

Ref: AA T10, Table 7


15

TSS Performance of AL Resistance Spot Welds

MINIMUM SHEAR TENSION STRENGTH (kN)

10.0
386 MPa and above

240 MPa to 385.9 Mpa

8.0

135 MPa to 239.9 Mpa


Below 135 Mpa

Typical
Auto
Alloys

6.0

4.0

2.0

0.0
0.0

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

3.5

THICKNESS (mm)
AWS D17.2:2007 Aluminum Tensile Shear Strength
16

Gas Metal Arc Welding - GMAW

wire feed rolls

consumable
electrode wire
shielding gas
arc plasma

weld metal
base metal
www.lincolnelectric.com

17

GMAW Advantages and Disadvantages


Advantages
Can be used manually and automatically
Suitable for welding most joint types
Applicable to joining various thicknesses
(1.5 mm) and thickness combinations
Lends itself to automation with mechanized
straight-tracks and robots
Good travel speeds - 0.5 to1.5 m/min
Disadvantages
Sensitive to variations in joint gaps and
lateral positioning of the joint edges,
relative to the welding torch
More prone to formation of weld porosity
than GTAW
Can be used in the flat downward,
horizontal, vertical, overhead and
intermediate welding positions
Not as fine to control as GTAW
May require parts to be cleaned of
lubricants and contaminants

www.lincolnelectric.com

18

Laser Beam Welding - LBW

Vs

19

Laser Beam Welding Advantages and Disadvantages


Advantages
Higher welding speeds of travel on thin
sections
High penetration/width ratio of welds
Strong welds with UTS joint efficiency >90% in
some alloys
Precise heat input which leads to narrower
weld beads, heat-affected zones and distortion
Welds Lap-Penetration and Square-Butt joints
Can maximize system utilization by switching
between continuous and stitch welding modes
Can be readily automated using robot or gantry
systems
Ready beam-sharing between different stations
and/or use with Hybrid welding processes
(e.g., GMA/Laser) of 6xxx
Disadvantages
Certain alloys will require a filler alloy
Joint fitup and precision
Capital costs

Laser Stir Fillet Weld

Laser Beam Fillet Weld

20

Solid-State Welding Key Characteristics


Surface oxides must be removed / displaced / dispersed so that
parent metals come into direct contact
Combinations of heat, pressure & time
Deformation may be present
Plasticized materials displace oxides, pressure allows
intimate contact resulting in metallurgical bonding
Temperatures below materials melting point
Allows dissimilar material combinations (AL to ST, AL to CU)
since intermetallics are not generated
If temperatures above melting, molten metals and
intermetallics must be expelled for good properties.

21

Solid-State Joint Configurations

Butt

Cold
Area <0.5in2
Single Weld
Various
shapes

Upset
Resistance
Area <30in2
Single or
Continuous
Various
shapes

Lap (Spot or Seam)

Friction
Area <60in2
Single Weld
Round
shapes

Friction
Stir
Area <2in2
Single or
Continuous
Various
shapes

Magnetic
Pulse

Ultrasonic

Explosion

Diam <0.25in
Single or
Continuous
Various
shapes

Diam <0.25in
Single or
Continuous
Various
shapes

Area >100ft2
Single Weld
Various
shapes
22

Ultrasonic Welding Process


Force

Hetrick et al., Ultrasonic Spot Welding, A New Tool for


Aluminum Joining, AWS Welding Journal, Vol 84, Feb 2005.

Reed

Force
Sonotrode

Wedge

Sonotrode Tip
Vibrates @
High Freq

Transducer

Transducer
Anvil

Lateral Drive

Wedge-Reed
23

Ultrasonic Welding Advantages and Disadvantages


Advantages
Low # Process Inputs

Thickness limited to approx. < 3mm

Low heat distortion

Difficult for deep parts (throat depth)

Low heat-affected zone

Requires good workpiece alignment

Disadvantages

Weld through lubricants

Surface preparation not critical


Excellent electrical joint properties
Low energy joining process

No arcs & fume emissions (clean)


2 to 3 second cycle times
Bimetallic combinations
No water cooling or filler materials

Applications
Electrical Wiring
Light gauge sheet joining
Sheet to wire joints
Bimetallic, multi-material joining
Products in consumer, industrial,
auto, defense, and aero

24

Ultrasonic Process Variables and Mechanical Performance

Major Process Variables


Vibration Amplitude (Microns), Force (Pressure), Time,
Tool Geometry
Weld Energy = Power * Time = (Amplitude * Force ) * Time
Increased Power or Time necessary with part
contamination or tool wear
Hetrick et al., Ultrasonic Spot Welding, A New Tool for Aluminum Joining, AWS Welding Journal, Vol 84, Feb 2005.
25

Friction Stir Welding Process


Advantages
Good mechanical properties

Minimal weld induced distortion


Full or partial penetration from one side
Square butt & lap-penetration type joints
High quality welds involving fewer repairs
and rejects
No filler alloy addition & shielding gas
Very simple to operate and maintain
Welds aluminum alloys normally considered
non-fusion weldable (e.g., 7050, 7075)
Disadvantages
Requires good fitup and clamping systems

26

FSW Joint Types

Retreating Side

Ideal for FSW

SquareSquareButt

Butt

Advancing Side

Challenging

LapPenetration

Highly specialized

LapPenetration

Lap-Fillet

Part A
Part B

LapFillet
27

Strength (ksi) or elongation (%)

FSW versus GMAW Property Comparison: 6061-T6

45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0

Base Metal
Friction Stir Weld
GMA Weld

Tensile Strength

Yield Strength

% Elongation

Mechanical Property
28

Friction Stir Spot Welding


Advantages
Replaces RSW and mechanical
fastening joints
Minimal weld induced distortion
Stitch and refill variants
Low consumable & infrastructure
costs (low electricity, no chilling
water)

www.kawasakirobotics.com

Welds aluminum alloys normally


considered non-fusion weldable
(e.g., 7050, 7075)
Disadvantages
Cycle time for thick stackups
Switching between different stackups
and material combinations
Arul et. al., Effects of Surface Treatment (Lubricant)
on Spot Friction Welded Joints Made of 6111-T4
Aluminum Sheets, SAE Paper 2007-01-1706
29

Friction Spot Welding Fatigue Performance 0.94mm 6111-T4

Alcoa RSW Fatigue


Data on 1mm Al
Auto Alloys

Lin et.al., Failure modes and fatigue life estimations of spot friction welds in lap-shear specimens of aluminum
6111-T4. Part 2: Welds made by a flat tool, International Journal of Fatigue, Vol. 30 (2008) 90-105
30

Friction Welding Process - Direct Drive

Position, Clamp, &


rotate parts

Single part rotates


to desired speed

Advance non-rotary part,


start pressure

Force pushing
parts, increasing
frictional heat

Heating

Rotation and force


applied for a
specific period

Forge / Upset

Flash-off
High forging
force applied

31

Friction Welding Advantages & Disadvantages


Advantages
Low Number Process Inputs
Low heat distortion
Good joint properties (low heat-affected
zone)
Weld through lubricants
Excellent joint properties

Disadvantages
Equipment may be capitally
intensive

Low energy joining process

Requires good workpiece alignment

Surface preparation not critical

Clean process - no arcs and fume


emissions

Applications

Fast second cycle times

Automotive driveshafts

Bimetallic combinations

Suspension rods, axles

No water cooling or filler materials


required

Bimetallic joining
Products in Auto, Defense, Aero
32

Mechanical Fastening: SPR Self-Piercing Rivet

Factors for SPR Joint Design


Total Stack-Up Thickness
Determines rivet length

Flange or Overlap Width


Edge Distance
Tool Clearance
Materials being Joined
Aluminum
Steel
Multi-Materials (Hybrids)

Stack-up / Orientation

Softer (top) to Harder (bottom)


Thick to thin, thin should be no less than
1/3t of the thicker

Rivet Diameter
3 mm or 5 mm
Joint strength
Robustness of joint
Access

Rivet Length
3 mm rivet, 1.5 - 3.0 mm > than stack
5 mm rivet, 2.0 - 4.0 mm > than stack
33

Mechanical Fastening: SPR Self-Piercing Rivet

Lap Shear Tensile Strength, N,

6111-T4 Alloy
1.5 mm to 1.5 mm
Material

6000
5000

1 mm to 1.5 mm
Material

4000
3000
2000
1000

0
3 mm

5 mm

3 mm

5 mm

Rivet Diameter

34

Mechanical Fastening: EJOT Flow Drill Screws

1. FLOW DRILLING SCREW (FDS) is applied to surface with medium thrust and
spindle rotation.
2. As friction and heat increases, the surface plasticizes and begins to flow.
3. Material begins to form the extended threading are behind the application.
4. As the flow phase ends the thread rolling phase begins with lower RPM on the
spindle.
5. The screw now begins to act like a normal fastener and is driven to a torque.
6. The fastener is seated as it would be in any normal toque strategy. As the
materials cool it also contacts around the threads for added joint integrity.
Weber Screw Driving Systems
35

Mechanical Fastening: TOX Mechanical Clinch


TOX Clinching Process

Material Stack-up / Orientation


Preferable to have thicker or harder material on punch side
Minimum single sheet thickness of 0.3 mm (depend on TOX diameter)
Maximum combine thickness is 8 mm (depend on TOX diameter)
Total stack-up of 2 to 4 layers possible

TOX diameters
Available in 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 12 mm button diameters

36

Mechanical Fastening: TOX Mechanical Clinch

TOX Joint Strength


Effect of Button Diameter
1mm : 1mm 6111-T4 Joints

Effect of Alloy
with 8 mm TOX
Pull Strength

Pull Strength

Shear Strength

500

500

450

450

400

400

350

350

300

300

lbs. force

lbs Force

Shear Strength

250

250

200

200

150

150

100

100

50

50

6 mm

8 mm

Button Diameter

1mm:1mm 6111-T4

1mm: 2mm 5754-0

Alloy / Gauge Combination

37

Aluminum Automotive Joining Applications

38

Friction Stir Welded Suspension Link for Lincoln Town Car

www.aluminum.org
Aluminum
Now, Aluminum Association, January/February 2003

6061 Extrusions
39

Jaguar XJ

Pretreated aluminum sheet


40% lighter, 60% stiffer than previous
steel-body XJ

Stamped sheet panels assembled


with adhesive bonding in
combination with self-pierce
riveting

Aluminum Now, Aluminum Association,


November/December 2002

40

Audi A2
http://www.autoaluminum.org/

30 meters of laser welds

Aluminum Associations Aluminum Welding Seminar, 2003


Aluminum Now, Aluminum Association,
November/December 2001
41

Automotive Closure Panel RSW Applications


http://www.autoaluminum.org/
http://www.autoaluminum.org/

Ford Explorer
AL hood and fenders

General Motors Yukon


AL liftgate

www.ford.com

www.gm.com

Acura MDX
AL hood
www.acura.com

Nissan Altima
AL hood and decklid

www.chrysler.com

www.nissanusa.com

DaimlerChrysler Pacifica
AL hood

42

Automotive Closure Panel Mechanical Fastener

Chrysler Concord
AL hood (SPR, TOX)
www.chrysler.com

GM U-Van (Venture)
AL hood (TOX)

Plymouth Prowler
SPR body and panels

www.gm.com

www.chrysler.com
43

Mazda RX-8 Friction Stir Spot Weld

www.media.mazda.com

44

Acknowledgements

The presenter would like to thank the following individuals for supplying
information and slides for this presentation: Dan Bergstrom, Russ Long,
Israel Stol, and Kyle Williams.

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